QUOTES FROM REVIEWS OF BEYOND THE MOUNTAIN
Published by Harper and Row, October 1983
Beyond the Mountain is a superb novel, elegantly written,
gracefully developed, created with intelligence, good humor
and deep insights into human nature. Elizabeth Arthur brings
to the subject of mountaineering a mind that is supple, unprotected,
uncommonly receptive, and wise. Her thoroughly imagined book
has all the power of autobiography and all the suspense of
a great adventure.
Ron Hansen, author of Mariette in Ecstasy
I have reads hundred of nonfiction and dozens of fiction
books on the subject of mountaineering. Beyond the Mountain
is the best written and most compelling novel relating to
climbing I have ever read. Elizabeth Arthur is an extremely
gifted novelist. Her story of the life of a complicated woman
set against the background of a climb of one of the world's
highest mountains is elegantly written and extremely moving.
Arthur's sensitive portrayal of Nepal captures the essence
of that wonderful and peculiar kingdom and true ambivalence
of many Westerners toward it. Her images are vivid, her prose
lyrical yet precise.
Arlene Blum, author of Annapurna: A Woman's
Arthur writes marvelously of the beauties and dangers of
mountain climbing, but she is most skilled when it comes to
illuminating the indelible traceries of the inner life of
her central character. Bit by bit she reveals the interweaving
of heart and spirit, the intricate connections with others,
the struggle for survival of self.
Publisher's Weekly, August 12, 1983
The story of the climb and of the avalanche... is as stunning,
stark and subtle as the blue and white landscape that enchants
these people. Arthur...chooses words as carefully as her narrator
chooses where to place her foot or to hammer a piton. She
makes her reader think afresh about tired words like 'happiness'
and 'guilt', and she makes a foreign world -- of Sherpas in
Gore-Tex parkas and of belays below aretes -- seem the only
one that matters.
The New Yorker, January 16, 1984
The writing is reminiscent of the gritty precision of her
earlier book, Island Sojourn. She writes with the tactile
grace of someone who has both registered and contemplated
experience. From Wyoming to Nepal, the book repeatedly strikes
us with its sense of observed life. The marvelous descriptions
come through the central figure, Temis Phillips, a tough,
self-questioning and often very funny protagonist ...The novel's
many virtues (include) its seriousness, memorable heroine
and its striking imagery. Climbing fiction this good is a
Steven Jervis, American Alpine Journal,
The climax of an effort by an American women's expedition
to climb a Nepalese mountain is the subject of this vivid,
exhilarating novel which should bring its author the recognition
she didn't get when her Island Sojourn came out.
Clarissa K. Wittenberg, The Washington Times
Daily, November 8, 1983
In her first novel, Beyond the Mountain, Elizabeth Arthur
relates a gripping tale of the unharnassable power and terrible
beauty of both nature and human desire...exhilarating and
lyrical descriptions of the mystical illusions and biting
realities of a mountain climber's life. In addition to the
exterior images which the author brings to life, the book
contains some startling insights into the inner machinations
of the main character's mind and heart.
Sheila Gilbride, Best Sellers, December
Believability within the context of the extraordinary is
a remarkable feature of Arthur's book. The high degree of
emotional truth in addition to the foreign, graphic world
of mountaineering makes it uniquely memorable... Beyond the
Mountain is, for all its brevity, a densely woven, ambitious
book. Its concerns and characters, its lyricism and sculpted
form will speak to and impress the sensitive reader.
Gardner McFall, Washington Post Book World
A novel with much insight into human nature, and much wisdom...By
choosing a journey as the setting for a spiritual quest, Elizabeth
Arthur echoes an old tradition...And, as Arthur superbly demonstrates,
the theme has lost none of its freshness or urgency.
Gabriele Grozinger, Christian Science Monitor,
October 19, 1893
(The) author's observations and exposition...is as clear
and exhilarating as mountain air. Marcia Fuchs, Library Journal,
August 1983 Her style is compelling and her prose lyrical.
This is not only a story of complex relationships, it is suspenseful
and adventurous to the end.
B.Dalton Booksellers, November 4, 1983
When writing about nature, Arthur is outstanding. Her eye
for detail and her passion for landscape bring us closer to
understanding the desires that compel both men and women to
climb mountains. There are moments with the stark intensity
of a dream.
Alice Hoffman, The New York Sunday Times
Book Review, November 20, 1983
Arthur has written a fine first novel which should find an
audience among mountain-climbing buffs and armchair adventurers...Arthur
is tremendously successful in depicting both the landscapes
of Wyoming and Nepal and in creating tension in the unraveling
of her two tales. Artemis, through the most dramatic of circumstances,
learns to survive, and it is this ability that remains most
vividly when the novel is finished.
Barbara Tritel, San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle,
January 1, 1994
The most impressive thing about Elizabeth Arthur's novel
Beyond the Mountain is the crisp control of its images...Thanks
for Arthur's skill the odyssey is seductive. The passages
drawn from Artemis' memory are as sharp as those recounting
the pursuit of the summit...A host of small things well-told
that plots our way through rugged psychological terrain.
Susan Pelzer, Pacific Northwest Journal,
A gripping novel about an all-women's mountain-climbing expedition
in Nepal...Arthur explores the psyche of Artemis Phillips,
a landscape as vast, lonely, and spectacular as the Himalayas.
Her musings and memories, insights and turns of mind ring
so true and poignant, it's a privilege to wander there with
her, as she climbs in the mountains of her dreams.
Pat Hickey, New Age Journal, January 1984
Written with superb control... Arthur's prose has some of
the elements of the mountain pursued by her heroine. There
is starkness and majesty, but beneath the surface lies the
hidden crevasses, the relentless convolutions of the subconscious.
Colleen Kelly Warren, St.Louis Post-Dispatch,
November 13, 1983
Elizabeth Arthurs first book,
Island Sojourn, won her acclaim for its extraordinary subtlety
and depth. Beyond the Mountain, her first work of fiction,
will mark another kind of beginning - the arrival of an important
novelist whose new book is as vivid as her last, but even more finely
hewn in its subtlety and violence. Original and unforgettable images
mark this novel about guilt, desire, and passion. Its beautifully
crafted observations reveal, in Joseph Conrads words, a
single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the
Why climb a mountain? Because
its there. Sir George Leigh Mallorys famous explanation
has haunted the imagination since its utterance, yet for those who
have never climbed, its meaning remains as inscrutable, as tantalizing,
as enigmatic as the jutting snow-shrouded palisades of the mountain
at the heart of this novel. On that mountains slopes is set
the story of a climber and her ascent to escape from her past.
Artemis Phillips has been a climber
for most of her life. With her brother Orion and her husband Nicholas
Rhodes she has traveled to some of the worlds great ranges
and achieved fame as an accomplished mountaineer. When she joins
a womens expedition in Nepal, she is only dimly aware of the
forces which push her up the slopes, but it becomes clear that she
desires atonement. For Temis, the ascent becomes a series of confrontations
- with those strangers who make Nepal their home, with the challenge
of snow and ice, with memory and desire. The simplicity of the mountain
symbolizes everything Temis wants to be - and her odyssey is largely
a journey into the past and into her electric, obsessive, passionate
marriage to Nicholas, a marriage that has almost destroyed her.
Elizabeth Arthur proves again that
she is a writer of formidable talent. Beyond the Mountain
shows us people in extremis and illuminates the complexities
of our lives. In the end, the novel is an affirmation - of independence
and the fellowship of man.
Book excerpt will be available
when e-version of Beyond the Mountain is online at Hollow Tree Press.